New York Daily News

January 19, 2008 

PBA prez not in favor of cop grants

BY MICHAEL WHITE
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU

Patrick Lynch    
Lombard for News  
Patrick Lynch

 

January 17, 2008—Suburban police departments near the city are raiding the NYPD to fill their own ranks, luring away dozens of veteran cops with the promise of better pay and safer beats.

The city's largest police union is fighting to stop a private foundation from handing out $15,000 grants to the NYPD's underpaid rookies.

The rookies - who are paid a paltry $25,100 a year while in the academy - are eligible to receive the money if they have outstanding college loans.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch Wednesday called the tuition program "good-hearted but wrong-headed." Lynch insisted the New York City Police Foundation's grants violate the union's contract with the city.

Lynch argued that the "patchwork program" discriminates against other members of the NYPD because it's not available to all cops.

Police Foundation Chairwoman Valerie Salembier scoffed at Lynch's complaints. She noted that the tuition program, established in October, is designed to ease the burden of underpaid rookie cops. The first grants are being financed using a $1.5 million private donation. No public money is being used, she said.

"I am totally mystified by the PBA response," she said. "It's like saying, if we can't feed all Americans, then let's not feed any."

Members of the NYPD's graduating class in June will be the first cops eligible for the grants.

About 450 rookies - roughly half the class - are expected to have outstanding college loans and qualify, Salembier said.

The NYPD's starting salary was imposed by an arbitration panel in 2005. Raising it has been the subject of a Daily News editorial campaign.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Lynch both have called for the starting salary to be raised. But contract talks between City Hall and the PBA are deadlocked. The contract has been submitted to binding arbitration.

"You tell me how anyone is going to come into the NYPD at that low starting salary, pay back college loans and support a family?" Salembier said yesterday. "It's really tough."

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne declined to comment on the private grants.

Lynch said the grants shouldn't be used as a solution to beef up the rookie salaries. "The solution is competitive pay for police officers at all points in their careers," he said.

The union has asked the city Office of Collective Bargaining to halt the tuition program as well as a city plan to give rookies a $600 pay advance to purchase uniforms, union officials said.

Lynch said the PBA has a recommendation pending before the arbitration panel that would give all cops money for education programs.

mwhite@nydailynews.com